Washington Democratic presidential candidates hoping to get an endorsement from Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will have to wait until next year.
Sebelius said Monday she won't back anyone until 2008 at the earliest because she is focused on helping her party elect governors this year in Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky.
"I think it's appropriate that my political focus remain on those three governor's races," Sebelius said in an interview between forums at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.
Seven other governors already have endorsed presidential hopefuls who want to tap into established networks for fundraising and party support.
"The candidates are very wise to seek governors' support," Sebelius said. "Clearly governors have already demonstrated they know how to put together a majority of the votes in their state border and know how to talk to their constituents."
State lawmakers are considering a bill that could allow Kansas to have a presidential primary in early February 2008.
Sebelius took on a prominent national role last year when she became chairwoman of the Democratic Governors Association, a separate organization. She is helping raise money for candidates in the three Southern gubernatorial races this year and recruiting candidates to run for 11 other governor's races in 2008.
During the four-day conference, Sebelius said she met with candidates eyeing races in North Carolina, Indiana and Delaware.
In March, she will spend time in Mississippi and Louisiana to help candidates and assist state Democratic parties with money and organization. Democrats now hold 28 of 50 governor's seats and want to build on that majority.
Sebelius also joined other governors Monday in pressing the Bush administration about beleaguered National Guard units and missing equipment that hasn't been returned from the war in Iraq.
About 60 percent of the Kansas National Guard's equipment has remained in Iraq as troops have come home, but the federal government has not paid for replacements.
"It's greatly handicapped our ability to respond to natural disasters, much less attacks or pandemics that we really can't predict," she said. Sebelius and other governors raised the issue during a meeting with Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and members of Bush's Cabinet.
Sebelius also defended Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., from Republicans who have criticized her vote for a congressional spending bill last month. The measure didn't include extra money for military construction projects at Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth in Boyda's district.
Republicans had tried to include the funds for the base closure and realignment process in a bill last year, but Congress ended its session without acting on the measure.
"What has been characterized as a vote against the funding was really not that," Sebelius said. "There was never a vote against BRAC funding, there was a vote for a continuing resolution to keep open key departments of government which were left abandoned by the previous Congress."
Sebelius said she was optimistic the funds would be passed later this year in a separate spending package.